Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Statement by H.E. Mr. Manuel Martins dos Santos Delgado, Secretary of State of Health, at the High Level Meeting on Antimicrobial Resistance

New York, 21 September 2016

Excellencies,

Distinguished colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Portugal emphasizes that the occurrence of this high-level meeting on antimicrobial resistance is of the utmost importance.

The fact that this is solely the fourth time a reunion such as this one is dedicated to matters of Health, is a testimony of the worldwide acknowledgement of the severity of the issue.

The decrease in the efficiency of antibiotics contributes to the worsening of infections, as it also dramatically hindrances the feasibility of many of the essential therapeutic strategies employed by modern medicine.

In our country, the issues of antibiotic resistance and healthcare-associated infections are simultaneously approached since 2013, that has been made possible by a Directorate-General of Health priority program – The Program of Prevention and Control of Infections and Antibiotic Resistance - (PPCIRA).

The last European study regarding the prevalence of infections, carried out in 2012, monitored the HAI rates in Portugal. These were found to be standing at 10,5%, much higher than the European average of 6,1% and were, as such, considered a very concerning matter. In the same study, the percentage of Portuguese patients, admitted to hospital, medicated with antibiotics was 45%; a result which, once again, surpassed the European average of 36%.

However, the positive results that have been achieved in recent years have allowed us to regard optimistically the next study of this kind, which will be conducted in 2017.

For years, the consumption of antibiotics in Portugal remained above the average European rates, having stabilized after 2006. However, that consumption registered a decrease in 14,1%, between 2011 and 2014, and this trend has persisted to nowadays. In 2012, Portugal was the 9th European country with the highest community consumption, above the average. Between the years of 2011 and 2014, this status has suffered a reversal with an observed reduction by 14%, placing the country below the European average, in the 16th position.

The Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance, depicted in the Resolution WHA 68.7 of the World Health Assembly, reflected a broad global consensus in considering the antimicrobial resistance as a significant public health challenge.

These are fundamental goals. Portugal deems two ideas as the important keys to achieve the fulfilment of these objectives. Antibiotic stewardship and citizen literacy regarding the correct usage of antibiotics.

Therefore, any and all initiatives regarding further training and support towards the prescriber are of the utmost importance, as are strategies which might simplify judicious prescription or that hinder the incorrect usage of these medicines.

Furthermore, there are still many people, all around the world, who believe that antibiotics ought to be used to treat flu. To reverse this situation, through improved literacy of the population in regards to health issues, by transmitting the knowledge that will allow people to support their doctors in the judicious usage of these medicines, is another priority of the Portuguese Program.

Although this is an infrequent practice in Portugal, the purchase of antibiotics without medical prescription remains a factor that contributes towards the increased inappropriate consumption of these medicines and, as such, it is a practice that must be carefully controlled.

There will be the need to perfect systems of vigilance towards the resistance and consumption of antibiotics, such as GLASS, increasing their representativeness and accessibility, in order to evaluate the results of the decisions that shall be taken here, as well as those previously in effect. This will, therefore, allow us to understand if the increase in antibiotic resistance is being contained.

It must be contained. Because we do not have, because Humanity does not have, any other option.

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